Popular Webcomics Company Goes Public for $315 Million



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Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

Webtoon Goes Public for a Big Payday

Webtoon Entertainment, which offers free comics, manga, and manwha online, celebrated its initial public offering last week, racking up more than $315 million on the Nasdaq market. Webtoon, which also owns Wattpad, boasted more than 170 million active users in the first quarter of this year and has become readers’ go-to source of webcomics. One of its most popular series, Rachel Smythe’s YA romance Lore Olympus, took home the Eisner Award for Best Webcomic in both 2022 and 2023 and is once again up for the honor in 2024.

If the idea of a webcomics company IPOing for more than a quarter of a billion dollars is surprising to you, you may not be paying enough to attention to Gen-Z and younger readers. For digital natives who grew up in a truly global media environment, free content with paid perks is the rule, not the exception. Webtoon has figured out how to make the model appealing to readers and creators alike through “Super Likes,” advertising revenue share, and Patreon integration, and I’ve got to say, this feels like the future. Anecdotally, we see consistent high demand for content focused on comics, manga, and manwha from the Book Riot audience. I’m curious, readers: are webcomics a part of your reading life? Let’s talk about it.

Far Out! The Best Sci-Fi for July

I can’t imagine why, but if current events have you yearning for an escape from this world, you’re in luck! July tends to be pretty sleepy as new releases go, but there are a bunch of intersting sci-fi and fantasy novels coming out this month. We love a summer getaway vibe. Mostly notably, the Keanu Reeves-China Miéville collab The Book of Elsewhere hits shelves on the 23rd. The project made major headlines when it was announced in January, but reviews have been middling at best—Kirkus called it “a well-written if elusive treat for fans of modern mythologizing” and PW straight-up said that it “disappoints“—so I’ll be eager to see readers’ reactions.

Code Switch Takes on Book Bans

NPR’s Code Switch podcast has launched a new monthly series about book bans. The first episode features Mike Curato, the author of Flamer, which is one of the most frequently banned and challenged books in the U.S. At one point, it was tied with Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer as the most banned book in U.S. schools.

Listen online or in your podcatcher of choice.

The Weather Isn’t the Only Thing Getting Hot

Spice up your summer reading life with 15 hot new romances coming in July. I thought I’d seen every possible pun for a Regency romance title, so my hat is off to Alexandra Vasti’s Ne’er Duke Well, and speaking of great puns, I can personally endorse Cherish Reid’s Jewel Me Twice. It’s a one-last-job heist! It’s a second-chance/lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers situation! It’s sexy as hell!

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